August 17, 2008

Kenyan Premier Reiterates Forest Evictions to Go Ahead

Text of report by Kenyan privately-owned TV station NTV on 16 August

[Presenter] The prime minister, Raila Odinga, has once again issued a warning concerning the preservation of the Mau Forest [southwestern Kenya]. Raila said that populist politics were not part of the solution to the Mau Forest problem since water resources in the forest were under threat.

[Reporter] The prime minister was welcomed with all due courtesy when visited Kedowa near Kericho. Raila, who was on an official visit, was accompanied by several cabinet ministers.

[Chris Obure, acting roads minister] Our leader, Hon Raila, has already issued one important order, that steps be taken to repair that road.

[James Orengo, lands minister] This government, which Raila Amolo Odinga is serving, will not harass anyone.

[Reporter] Plans by the government to evict people living near water catchment areas in the Mau Forest have met stiff opposition from several residents and politicians from the Rift Valley. The prime minister said the government was planning to effectively deal with the problem of the Mau Forest.

[Odinga] Without forests, there is no environment; and without the environment, there is no life.

[Reporter] This message was repeated during a separate meeting led by Raila in Kericho.

[Odinga] About Mau, and I am speaking as one of you, because I got votes from those currently living in Mau. I am saying that if we have a problem, as a society, we should look for a solution.

[Reporter] The prime minister spoke on the dangers of encroaching on the Mau Forest.

[Odinga] If you now visit Lake Victoria [western Kenya], you will find dry land where water was 15 years ago; water levels in Lake Victoria have dropped by as much as three metres. River Sondu also originates there, but now its water levels have decreased.

[Reporter] Raila said it would have been easier for him to gain popularity by fighting against the eviction of the people from the forest.

[Odinga] It would have been easier for me to say that these are my people, therefore they should not leave. This is the easier thing to do, and is known as populist politics [preceding two words in English], but in the end we will all suffer.

[MP Isaac Ruto] Let us all agree on the role of the taskforce [preceding word in English] so as to ensure that it does not harm us and lead to further clashes.

[Reporter] Raila insisted that the Mau Forest problem will be solved in a humane way with all stakeholders being included in the decision-making process.

Originally published by NTV, Nairobi, in Swahili 0000 16 Aug 08.

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